Tuesday, 9 June 2020

#23: Time and Tide

I am in the extremely fortunate position of living near Nairn beach, arguably one of the best in Scotland.  During lockdown I have been making a point of taking a daily stroll down to the sea, just to watch the water.  Since moving to the coast I have become increasingly aware of and fascinated by the tide and its effect on my local beach - and its effect on me.  

Nairn beach and waves looking across the firth

Tides are part of our island narrative with perhaps the most well-known proverb being “time and tide wait for no man (or woman)” - meaning that when a favourable opportunity presents itself you would be wise to take it, in case you don’t get such a good chance again.  Looking back at your life - were there opportunities you wished you had jumped at?  Were there opportunities when the tide was high, the sun was shining and a light breeze blowing but for whatever reason, you decided to stay on the shore?  Maybe you were waiting for the conditions to be too perfect or were simply not feeling able or ready to confront the risks associated with the new opportunity.  When the time and tide are right it is important to take your opportunity.  Whilst there are many problems and challenges ahead of us all just now, there will also be opportunities and it is important that when they come we grab them with both hands.

The tides are also one of the few things in modern life which can not be reduced to ones and zeros.  The Natural Navigator, Tristan Gooley, has written widely about tides and tells us that “there is not a machine in the world that can accurately predict tides at a new location without the assistance of human observation.” In observing the tides at Nairn, there are very high tides where seaweed is washed up onto the golf course and very low tides where the sea disappears beyond the pier and lighthouse.  The beach can be full of sand one week and full of stones the next.  Seeing it every day, with a slower pace to life recently, I am finding great comfort in the regular nature of the tide.  Change happens every day.  The height of the tide and its direction of flow are determined by the Earth, moon, sun and time, fundamental forces in our universe.  As the sun starts setting ever northwards and the days continue to get longer at this latitude, I find great reassurance from feeling like a tiny pebble on the beach, waiting for the high tide to take me off on my next adventure.